HOW TO GET HEALTH CARE INSURANCE IF YOU ARE A MUSICIAN...
Check out Access to Health Insurance/Re-sources for Care, a great resource base put together by the Actors Fund. Go to the AHIRC web site www.ahirc.org and click on your state to find out what's available. To get friendly personal assistance, call 323-933-9244 (x32). They can also help you figure out if your band or other type of crew should pursue your own group plan.
If you are a member of AFTRA, you should be aware that AFTRA has negotiated some very important contract improvements which bring a lot more artists under coverage. Find out if this affects you by calling AFTRA at 212-532-0800 / New York or 323-634-8100 / Los Angeles www.aftra.com
If you are a member of SAG, AFTRA, or Actors Equity, check out The Entertainment Industry Group Insurance Trust at www.teigit.com or 800-886-7504.
In Mississippi, the Musicians and Producers Coalition is working to get health care insurance for artists in that state. Contact Kamikaze at firstname.lastname@example.org
In Washington state, the Washington Artists Health Care Insurance Project is exploring options for bringing health care insurance to local artists. Contact Claudia Bach at email@example.com.
To find the nearest free medical clinic anywhere in the United States, go to the Volunteers in Medicine web site www.vimi.org and click on VIM Clinic Alliance.
If you are a veteran, contact the Veteran's Administration to find the nearest health care facility to you at 1-800-827-1000 or www.va.gov
There are many free or cheap clinics and health care services, some specifically for musicians, some for the general public. These are the ones we know of:
ILLINOIS: Health in the Arts, 835 South Wolcott Street, Room #E144, Chicago, IL 60612; (312) 996-7420
LOUISIANA: N.O. Musicians' Clinic regroups, temporarily relocates. The New Orleans Musicians
Clinic is a great organization that provides free medical care to local musicians
and their families, and helps them in need as well.
The clinic has relocated its administrative offices to Lafayette, La. The clinic
recommends that their musicianas/clients relocate to Austin, Tx.
where they are coordinatioong with an existing clinic in the city.
To reach the clinic administrator Michelle Gegenheimer you can
call (504) 415-3514 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW JERSEY: The Jazz Musicians Emergency Fund provides free medical care for jazz artists in partnership with the Englewood Hospital and Medical Center. For more information: 212-245-3999 or email@example.com
Dizzy Gillespie Cancer Institute For jazz musicians. 201-894-3000
NEW YORK CITY: ArtistAccess is a pilot program developed at Brooklyn's Woodhull Medical Center for ALL New York City based artists and cultural workers. For more information, call 877-244-5600.
Al Hirschfeld Free Health Clinic
The Kathryn and Gilbert Miller Health Care Institute
SOUTH CAROLINA: Communicare coordinates a network of health providers and pharmaceutical companies who donate services and prescriptions to low-wage, uninsured citizens who qualify. 800-763-0059
TENNESSEE: The City of Memphis Music Commission has established the Memphis Musician's Health Care Plan, which offers local musicians a variety of insurance programs, from basic emergency care to a primary health care program. Plus the program offers low-cost lab and diagnostic tests, such as blood sugar and cholesterol checks. Any Memphis musician living in Tennessee and earning at least 51% of his or her income through performing is eligible. Call 901-543-9355 to register.
HOW YOU CAN HELP TO BUILD A MOVEMENT FOR UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE...
BENEFITS. Our friends at Rock A Mole Productions rockamole.com have done a year-long survey of the conditions of life for musicians. They found that 96% of all musicians have had trouble obtaining health care and that 87% of musicians have played a benefit for another musician in a time of health crisis. 21% of all musicians surveyed have played more than 100 of these benefits.
There are over ONE THOUSAND of these benefits each and every week. We call this the "musician for musician health care movement." If we can link up all this activity, we can become strong enough to transform our health care system. What can you do? Patronize these benefits. Publicize them. Help link them together. If you are participating in a benefit, let us know about it at firstname.lastname@example.org
BRING YOUR MUSIC INTO THE MOVEMENT FOR HEALTH CARE.
That movement is everywhere. For example, in 2004 there was a strike by over 70,000 grocery workers in Los Angeles who were trying to protect their health care benefits. The public overwhelmingly supported this strike because they knew their own health care benefits were in danger too. Musicians also came out in support, including Tom Morello, Boots of the Coup, Flea, Corey from Slipknot, Lester Chambers, Quetzal, and Lowen & Navarro.
These are some of the other music/health care activities taking place:
CALIFORNIA: The California Nurses Association (C.N.A.) represents 60,000 nurses in California and they are also organizing nurses all across the country. Everywhere C.N.A. goes, it educates nurses and the general public about the need for a universal health care system based upon a single standard of care. C.N.A. is also eager to work with musicians wherever and whenever possible. www.calnurses.org
OHIO: SPAN (Single Payer Action Network) has put forward an initiative, certified by the Ohio Attorney General, for legislation that would eliminate insurance companies from health care in Ohio and create a statewide universal health care delivery system with no deductibles. The first step is to obtain 97,000 valid signatures from Ohio voters, which will allow for the initiative to go to the legislature as a proposed amendment to the state consitution.
Aside from the unions which began the campaign, SPAN has received strong support from Ohio churches and from the rural counties in the southern part of the state. The possibility of universal health care in Ohio has also captured the imagination of musicians-thus far Audioslave, Citizen Cope, Bobby Rush, Michael Fracasso, Steve Earle, the Drive-By Truckers have brought SPAN activists out to their shows to gather signatures. So have many local bands.
SPAN's importance isn't limited to Ohio. If SPAN's campaign becomes visible nationwide it can help bring together the 70 per cent of the American people who say they want universal health care; it can serve to begin to unite the one thousand benefits musicians play for each other every week.
For more information, go to www.spanohio.org If you are in either a touring or Ohio band and would like to get involved with SPAN, contact RRC at email@example.com
PENNSYLVANIA: Versatility Music, headed by jazz singer Toni Washington, holds an annual summer banquet in Philadelphia with a focus on health care for musicians. Versatility Music has proposed a Million Musician March to dramatize the need to provide health care for artists. Versatility Music, PO Box 9919, Philadelphia PA 19118; firstname.lastname@example.org.
TENNESSEE: Musicians for Health Care came out of a forum sponsored by Rock & Rap Confidential at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville in 2004. The organization holds meetings, puts on concerts, and has been active in trying to preserve TennCare-which covers countless musicians-from virtual elimination by Governor Phil Bredesen. Llsmith36@aol.com.
TEXAS: Every spring, Rock & Rap Confidential organizes a music/health care panel at South by Southwest in Austin. This has become an important connecting point for artists and others who are working to overcome the obstacles that prevent artists from obtaining health care. For more information: email@example.com
VISION. We need a vision of how to fundamentally and permanently transform our disintegrating system of health care denial into a system of universal health care delivery. Check out the Just Health Care campaign at www.justhealthcare.org. The Just Health Care campaign explains exactly how such a system of universal health care can be paid for (and without raising taxes on anyone who makes under $184,000 a year).
CANADIAN MUSICIANS NEVER HAVE TO DO BENEFITS FOR EACH OTHER. HERE'S WHY...
I work with a folk artist called Penny Lang; she has been performing for 40+ years (a legendary Canadian folk artist who has toured on 3 continents). She was releasing an album every 2 years, and her performances were making her a modest living...In April 2000 in Newfoundland Penny had a stroke and was hospitalised, given CAT scans, etc, stabilised there for a week, and then flown home to Montreal, her home, for all sorts of other follow up care etc. While the system isn't perfect, at least there were no medical bills outstanding. Canada's social safety net was put to use, and she had her basics covered, with therapy and rehab she eventually got back to performing, and is now back to doing modest tours in North America, and can look to possibly saving for a quiet place near the coast.
1. I have never had much time for my teeth.
That is to say, I brush a few times a day, I try to keep a healthy
enough mouth, but deep involvement - regular trips to the dentist -
have always eluded me. I have never poked my head above the poverty
line, thus money is an object, thus I never really stick my head in
unless there's a big problem.
Once maybe 6 years ago, one of my wisdom teeth caved in. When I
checked into the local dental school to get it looked at (cheaper than
a practicing dentist), they informed me that I had an impacted,
cracked, abcessed wisdom tooth, and that left to fester, it would turn
into blood poisoning and kill me. Thus it was a medical emergency, and
the system could be billed for the surgery to remove all my wisdom
teeth. I - jazz musician and juice bar worker - had my life and about
$1000 saved by the workings of our system.
2. Me and my kidneys
It was my own fault. During school, I lived on coffee, never drank
water. The coffee thickening my blood to a sludgy gel, I inadvertently
beat my kidneys and liver up so badly that my body finally protested
with a massive kidney/ bladder/ urinary tract infection.
Apparently, it was caught just in time, and saved me irreversible
and possibly lethal kidney damage. I still had to stay in the hospital
for a week, and I don't think I paid a cent.
-Kevan Corbett/ musician in Halifax, Nova Scotia
LET'S PLAY CATCH-UP... On April 25, I was the guest of instructor Bobby Borg-former drummer in Warrant and author of The Musician's Handbook-at a music business class at the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles. Although cast in the role of teacher, I learned a lot. One Canadian student described having to pay $2000 a year for an American health insurance policy and pointed out that it would probably be cheaper to fly home for the free health care provided there. A student from Norway explained that not only is health care free in her country ("America is kind of like a jungle, isn't it?"), but noted that if she became seriously ill in California the Norwegian government would fly her home for treatment. Free of charge. "Us they just leave by the side of the road," added Borg, once the victim in a truck accident while on tour that resulted in $90,000 in medical bills.-L.B.
For this web site to be of the greatest value, we need you to send us information on health care resources, benefits, and the movement for health care. Rockrap@aol.com; RRC, P.O. Box 341305, Los Angeles CA 90034. Thanks!
Get Your Copy of New Film on Music/Health Care.
Rock A Mole Productions www.rockamole.com of Los Angeles has released Everybody In, Nobody Out, a new film on musicians and health care. It's just seven minutes long but it packs quite a wallop. It will be sent free on VHS or DVD to any musician or music writer who requests it. For more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or RRC, Box 341305, LA, CA 90034. Recommended by everyone from Music Connection in Los Angeles to the American Federation of Musicians in New York.
"What does it say about the richest country on earth that its citizens must depend upon raffles and spaghetti dinners to pay the medical bills--a situation that exists in no other civilized country? What does it say about members of Congress and presidents, Democrats and Republicans all, who are content with a health care system that ignores the needs of tens of millions of Americans while it makes multimillionaires out of those who profit from disease and death?"--from Critical Condition by Donald L. Bartlett and James B. Steele